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News in brief: 03 January 2013

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News in brief: 03 January 2013

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News in brief: 03 January 2013

Country/Region: Africa, Middle East and North Africa, South and East Asia, Tanzania, Iran, Syria, Libya, Indonesia

Tanzania: church leader injured in Christmas Day shooting by suspected Islamists

A church leader was critically wounded in a Christmas Day shooting by suspected Islamist separatists in Zanzibar.

The Rev. Ambrose Mkenda was shot in the face and shoulder by two attackers on a motorcycle. The shooting took place as the church leader returned to his home in Tomondo just before 8pm. He was rushed to hospital and later transferred to intensive care as his condition deteriorated.

UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation), an Islamist separatist group that wants semi-autonomous Zanzibar to become independent from mainland Tanzania, is suspected of carrying out the attack.

The group distributed leaflets threatening church leaders in Zanzibar in October following attacks on several churches.   

Source: Morning Star News

Iran: 50 Christians arrested at house church gathering

Around 50 Christians, mostly converts from Islam, were arrested at a house church Christmas gathering in Tehran.

The raid by 15 police and security agents happened on 27 December. The Christians had to hand over their mobile phones and personal information, including passwords to their email and social media accounts, and explain how they had come to accept Christianity. The majority were released after being interrogated, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, who has chronic kidney disease for which he requires dialysis, was detained. He has been taken to hospital by prison guards to receive his treatment.

The Islamic regime generally intensifies its campaign against Christians over the Christmas period.

Indonesia: rotten eggs, dung and urine thrown at congregation during Christmas Eve event

Members of Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) came under attack by Muslims as they gathered in the open for a Christmas Eve service.

The assailants threw rotten eggs, dung and plastic bags full of urine at the congregation of around 200 people. HKBP had been subjected to a similar assault in May.

On Christmas Eve, the congregation gathered for a service in front of its property in Bekasi, West Java, which has been sealed off by the authorities. It was forced to flee and hold the service in the compound of a police station.

HKBP has been denied a building permit despite a Supreme Court ruling that one be granted and the site reopened.

Syria: Christian man kidnapped and beheaded by rebels

A 38-year-old Christian man was kidnapped and beheaded by opposition fighters in Syria.

A respected Christian figure reported the brutal murder of Andrei Arbashe, which happened in the northern town of Ras Al-Ayn. He had recently married, and his wife is pregnant.

Andrei was kidnapped after his brother was heard criticising the behaviour of the rebels. His body was found by a roadside, surrounded by hungry dogs.

In November, the Syrian opposition attacked Ras Al-Ayn, entered the Christian quarter and ordered residents to leave; more than 200 families were driven out.

Libya: Two church workers killed in bombing of Egyptian church building

Two church workers were killed in the bombing of a building belonging to an Egyptian church in Libya.

The incident in Dafniya, near Misrata, on Sunday (30 December) was the first major assault on a Christian target in Libya since the revolution.

Expatriates from Egypt and other African countries along with Europeans comprise the overwhelming majority of the small Christian community in Libya.

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